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KB_Smith

Old French Violin - where and when was it made?

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My apologies to all for not responding to all your comments sooner.  Believe me, I am very interested in all the advice. Unfortunately, I am limited as a new member in my ability to respond in a timely way.  First, until I get a couple more posts under my belt, my responses will be delayed for moderator review, sometimes for several hours.  I understand the need to do that to ensure appropriate content, so I'm good with that, but please don't think I am not anxious to stay engaged in the discussion.  I also ran into another delay when I unexpectedly reached my "limit" by making three posts yesterday.  I don't know if that also gets lifted after I've made 10 posts or if there is a permanent limit of three posts in any 24 hour period.  So I'll respond to a few things here in a single post.

3 hours ago, PhilipKT said:

Another would be to sort of pre glue the ribs together, then glue them onto the back, modifying the shape of the rib Cage so that it resembles a violin, then filing off the excess from the Corners.

To PhilipKT: I'm very interested in the lesson about how the rib cage is made and what to take away about the squared off corners on my violin's ribs.  What will the corners look like on a violin where the ribs are not squared off at the corners?  Do they come to a perfect joint with a fine line where the rib sections meet at the corners? Is that necessarily a better construction method or a sign of a better made violin? Also, do the squared ribs tell you this violin was not made in France, or that it is just a cheaper way to mass produce VSOs and a sign of a lower quality instrument? It might be helpful if you can post a picture of this.

And also, if modern violin construction is done without corner blocks, is it common for all modern violins to be missing corner blocks, or are better quality violins still made with corner blocks?  I know this probably too much minutia for uninformed new-guys like me, but I am honestly interested in what makes for a better violin. 

12 hours ago, martin swan said:

Just to clarify, the violin is old, probably around 100 years old, but not made in France.

The response you received from this seller is typically disingenuous ...Bordeaux is the centre of this trade in pimped up rubbish.

Martin, Do have an opinion of where this violin might have been made if not made in France?  Is it Chinese, or German, or Czech?  I'm thinking not Chinese if it is anywhere near 100 years old.  Also, thank you for the links to the Auction Scroll.  I have not yet read those threads, but I will.

A few people have commented on the "new label." Is it that blatantly obvious that this label is new?  I guess a 100 year old label would indeed look much older.

To put all of my many questions and inexperience into context.  This is my first violin.  I just started taking lessons a little over a month ago and so I am a total beginner.  But I am enjoying this and I did not want to continue with a beginner's rental violin.  I wanted to buy my own instrument and I thought the charm of owning a vintage French violin would be nice. So, I took a chance on this one. True, I count myself among the "unwary." But I did not buy this out of a need to get a bargain.  I'm just not ready to invest a couple thousand dollars into an instrument until I know I will stick with this and can truly appreciate a fine instrument.  I'll play this for a couple of years. And then, if I really am committed, and hopefully become a reasonably good violinist and decide to buy a better instrument, I have the resources to buy a good instrument. So no need to feel sad for the OP (original post?), Wood Butcher.  Everything I learn from all of you will help me down the road when I'm ready to buy my next instrument. So I genuinely appreciate all the helpful information, advice, and feedback from all of you.

 

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18 hours ago, Blank face said:

The Auction Scroll is one of the other Maestronet message boards you'll find when clicking on the top line. Faked, facsimile or just randomly reproduced labels, inscriptions and brands were produced since some hundred years at a thousand places, so it's useless to ask each time "whodunnit?" But here are two of the threads where the South French Connection was discussed, the instruments being discussed aren't visible anymore but the questions. BTW, there are other infamous origins like "notorious Hannover".

 

Martin,  I read through both threads...very eye-opening,  Unfortunately the pictures are no longer available, but I certainly now understand your references to the south of France. The seller’s eBay handle for my violin’s auction is Ortigaitalia.  Are you familiar with him?  Is this the same south of France eBay dealer you seem so familiar with?

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12 hours ago, KB_Smith said:

Martin, Do have an opinion of where this violin might have been made if not made in France?  Is it Chinese, or German, or Czech?  I'm thinking not Chinese if it is anywhere near 100 years old.  Also, thank you for the links to the Auction Scroll.  I have not yet read those threads, but I will

I think you must have missed the bit where I agreed 100% with Baroquecello.

The violin is a product of the Schönbach cottage industry, probably made shortly before 1900 - without the original vanish it's hard to be very specific about the date.

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This German violin in the French style is BOB construction.  How long did they carry on making them using this method ?   Up to WW1 ?

How does one tell real French Mirecourt violins from these German copies ?

Is it a combination of outer mold - cleats along the back seam - edge work - varnish - or did the Germans copy this as well later on ?

 

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There's nothing "in the French style" about this violin that I can see. 

The only elements that are in any way French are a) the fake label and b) the later inking on the scroll and rib corners.

Sure you're not confusing it with the discussion we're having here about French or German "Caussin Shop" violins? 

 

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PhilipKT, sorry for misattributing the information on corner blocks to you.  I see now that you were also quoting that post just to thank baroquecello for the interesting lesson.

baroquecello, I read your lesson on violin construction again.  I misunderstood it the first time through.  I think I understand now, after reading it again, that you only correlate the lack of corner blocks to the 2nd BOB construction method, “to sort of pre glue the ribs together….” If this is a cheaper construction method, I wonder why it would not have been more widely adopted by violin makers all over Europe, rather than becoming a recognized Markneukirchen method? 

When you see a violin with filed corners that lead to the seams being in the center of the Corners, like my violin, should that always be interpreted to mean this is BOB construction with no corner blocks (or fake corner blocks if at all present), and probably made in Markneukirchen?  But I see photos of a JTL violins that also look to me to have center seam corners.  Here is a picture of a certified JTL violin from 1930 for sale today from a fine violin dealer in D.C. $4,000.  If you can't enlarge the inserted photo enough to clearly see the corner seams, you can see it at this link:

(https://brobstviolinshop.com/instruments/jerome-thibouville-lamy-workshop-mirecourt-c-1930-geronimo-grandini-label/?view=grid&view=grid).

Is this also BOB construction?

jrme-thibouville-lamy-workshop-mirecourt-c-1930-22geronimo-grandini22-label-8.thumb.jpg.6610f715ba883826a016f8bf6fec378e.jpg

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, martin swan said:

There's nothing "in the French style" about this violin that I can see. 

The only elements that are in any way French are a) the fake label and b) the later inking on the scroll and rib corners.

Sure you're not confusing it with the discussion we're having here about French or German "Caussin Shop" violins? 

 

I need to go to the dunces corner.

You shall write out 100 times ------ "this is not in the French style".

I am in deep trouble because the "Caussin" violin  looks  Germanish to me. :lol:

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18 minutes ago, KB_Smith said:

But I see photos of a JTL violins that also look to me to have center seam corners.  Here is a picture of a certified JTL violin from 1930 for sale today from a fine violin dealer in D.C. $4,000.  If you can't enlarge the inserted photo enough to clearly see the corner seams, you can see it at this link:

(https://brobstviolinshop.com/instruments/jerome-thibouville-lamy-workshop-mirecourt-c-1930-geronimo-grandini-label/?view=grid&view=grid).

Is this also BOB construction?

I think you are seeing a hotspot in the photo. The resolution isn't good enough to be sure, but it looks much more like a classic JTL rib joint ie. one rib feathered into the full thickness of the other.

The Schoenbach method of rib construction is not cheaper, it's simply a tradition. Outside mold is probably easier and quicker once you've made your mold.

You are asking why one school of violin-making didn't adopt another's methodology. This is like asking why everyone doesn't speak English because it would be so much simpler. You are ignoring the fact that until the advent of violin-making schools (quite recent) everyone learnt as an apprentice, rather as they would learn a language from a parent.

Although you've said you are quite happy with your violin and what you paid for it, I sense that you are still holding onto a dream. You will feel much happier once you give it up utterly ...!

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25 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I sense that you are still holding onto a dream. You will feel much happier once you give it up utterly ...!

Did you start out as a marriage counselor?

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Yes, I think I'm ready to abandon the dream and raise the white flag. I'm developing a sense for the very high level of experience and knowledge of this forum's membership.  Several appear to be expert luthiers, and some, like you Martin, are violin dealers who have been in the business for some time.  I imagine several are also qualified appraisers.  As such, I trust that the information I'm getting here is exactly on-point, accurate, and reliable.  I've asked many questions, not so much to maintain the dream, but to learn what I can and store it for future reference. 

It reminds me somewhat of buying my wife's first diamond.  I was young and knew nothing about diamond grading.  An expert jeweler, and GIA appraiser, sat me down, handed me a jeweler's loupe and started teaching me about how to look at diamonds.  But in the end, the only thing most of of care about is how much fire does that diamond have when looking at it on her finger, right?  It's sort of the same for me here.  I want the fire hose of detailed information to learn what I can from all of you about violins.  But in the end, all I'll really want is an instrument that sounds good to me and I like to play.  And for now, at my very novice level, I'll be satisfied with what I have. But I reserve the right to continue to pick your brains.

By the way, Martin,  I'm having a hard time telling the difference between the squared-off ends of the rib seam comparing the photos of the JTL violin and my violin.  I can't see how one rib is feathered into the full thickness of the other on the JTL.  They both just appear to be filed to a square end to me.  Maybe it's something you have to be looking at the actual instruments to really see.

 

213985144_JTLRibSeam.JPG.76d4a91733e540acaa92ba3b7c40a2d8.JPG

IMG_0013.thumb.jpg.791d6dc0922823c0ec1549d990c998f6.jpg

 

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On your bottom picture, if you look at the upper rib join you can clearly see a seam running from the bass end to almost halfway along the rib. We can also see that both ribs are either supernaturally thin (a violin rib is normally over 1mm thick), or they have both been filed down to a point. Either way, this is a classic Schoenbach rib joint.

On the JTL, you can't really see it in the photo but what you have is a full thickness rib coming up from the lower bouts or down from the upper bouts, and the c bout rib is feathered to a fine point and completely invisible.

Here's a close up of how that works :

 image.png.4fbd00f7661c9343db7287ae8e52ead9.png

You can often see file marks on a French outside mold "single rib thickness" joint and you may even see a bit of a seam creeping in on the c-bout side of it if the feathering isn't super well done, but still it's a completely different construction method.

This alone wouldn't be enough to say that your violin is Schoenbach, but everything else about it is also Schoenbach and not French.

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Thanks.  Great photo...shows how the ribs come together pretty well.  What is the liner material?  is that a plywood or fiber board to provide structure and support to the ribs? There does not appear to be a corner block here, unless the triangular shaped section of rather fibrous looking material is it.

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To put a stake in the heart of this discussion, I wanted to share with you feedback I got from a very reputable violin dealer in Washington, D.C. area that has been in the business for over 50 years.  I took my violin into Brobst Violin Shop in Alexandria, Va to take a look at the actual instrument, rather than photos. To give you an idea of what Brobst sells, he currently has for sale a c.1776 JB Guadagnini with certificate, a 1784 Storioni (Cremona) with W.E.Hill certificate, a c.1845-50 JB Vuillaume with certificate, and many more certified old violins.  My point is this is probably the #1 dealer in the D.C. area in authentic old instruments and the most qualified to evaluate my violin.  I also took in a summary of the many comments I got from all of you to discuss with Brobst. 

You should not be surprised to hear that they agreed completely with most of the comments from all of you. They did not give me a clear opinion of where this violin might have been made (France, Markneukirchen, Shoenbach), but agreed it is a basic trade violin, probably with several different workers involved in making different parts of the violin. They agreed it is old, and has been revarnished (which I learned destroys valuation).  So, I want to thank all of you again for your comments and advice. I'm impressed with your expertise and ability to determine so much about an instrument from a handful of photos. 

I'll leave this discussion with one last question.  I've read so many stories just like mine on this forum, so it seems a common issue - fake old trade violins that are not what they are claimed to be. And even some comments in the Auction Scroll about lack of authenticity of violins listed and sold by the Auction Houses (like Tarisio and Bromptons), and even that certificates might not be worth the paper they are written on... So I want to start a new thread asking where does one go to find authentic old instruments.  I imagine that's been discussed before on MN.  Can anyone provide me a thread or two where it is discussed where the real instruments are?  If not, would that be an appropriate question to put out on The Pegbox  or better asked in the Auction Scroll?

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19 minutes ago, KB_Smith said:

I'll leave this discussion with one last question.  I've read so many stories just like mine on this forum, so it seems a common issue - fake old trade violins that are not what they are claimed to be. And even some comments in the Auction Scroll about lack of authenticity of violins listed and sold by the Auction Houses (like Tarisio and Bromptons), and even that certificates might not be worth the paper they are written on... So I want to start a new thread asking where does one go to find authentic old instruments.  I imagine that's been discussed before on MN.  Can anyone provide me a thread or two where it is discussed where the real instruments are?  If not, would that be an appropriate question to put out on The Pegbox  or better asked in the Auction Scroll?

If you want to be sure, you buy from an expert.

One becomes an expert by carefully looking at and working with many examples.

So... established shops staffed by luthiers who've spent decades in the business are your best bet.  If you're looking for "real" bench made instruments from centuries past, they should have an inventory of such instruments priced accordingly.  Expect to pay a premium for a premium product.  If a deal seems too good to be true, in this industry, it probably is.

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Surely you know the answer to your own question.

You had lots of opinions here, all telling you the same thing, yet you still felt the need to get a "real" opinion.

You went to Brobst because they are an established business and because they have Guads and Storionis and Vuillaumes.

So there you have it - the answer is "somewhere like Brobst".

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Why is it that a novice buyer can't trust the authenticity of what is offered at auction?  Aren't those instruments inspected by experts at the auction house before being offered?  And why is it that certificates are not necessarily trustworthy as validation of authenticity? 

I understand that buying from somewhere like Brobst is the best way to ensure you get an authentic instrument.  But that is a commitment to paying full retail price.  Auctions give one the opportunity to get an instrument at a discount to full fair market value.

It seems unless one has your level of experience, and therefore the knowledge and ability to determine the quality of the instrument, we really have no business bidding at an auction, even at Skinner or Tarisio - or risk the same fate as buying from eBay.

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26 minutes ago, martin swan said:

So there you have it - the answer is "somewhere like Brobst".

 

2 minutes ago, KB_Smith said:

I understand that buying from somewhere like Brobst is the best way to ensure you get an authentic instrument.  But that is a commitment to paying full retail price.  Auctions give one the opportunity to get an instrument at a discount to full fair market value.

If the question was, where to get "the real thing for Ebay price without knowledge" the answer is nowhere.

Everything has it's price, especially experience and expertise. To believe that there's a discount for this price at any auction is a costy misconception.

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On 12/11/2019 at 3:43 AM, baroquecello said:

the scroll fluting which Ends 6 o'clock, the "Delta" at the chin of the pegbox,

In the first response I got to my original post, Baroquecello commented on a couple of features of my violin's scroll and pegbox that I don't understand.  So in the interest of teaching me more about how to identify a flawed scroll from one that is correctly made, can you please give me a short lesson about the scroll?

I'm re-posting a couple photos of the scroll and pegbox for ease of reference to these questions.

What does "fluting ends at 6 o'clock" mean? Is that an indication of poor workmanship, or low quality tradecraft, or that it simply does not meet a high artistic standard?  Where should the fluting end if not at 6 o'clock, and what is the point to look at on the scroll fluting that tells you where it ends?

And what is the "Delta" at the chin of the pegbox?  Is that a feature seen on the front, side, or back of the pegbox? What does a good Delta look like, and what is wrong with the Delta on mine?

 

IMG_0020.thumb.jpg.31a3b38e8a88db40b954c7d79e5b5043.jpg

 

IMG_0029.thumb.jpg.388c068f2b5e170d42443fbee320d99a.jpg

IMG_0028.thumb.jpg.852cfad798e35560c0a16d83b770cb11.jpg

 

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The "delta" is the little triangle at the bottom to the scroll (see picture). It is so named because it resembles the upper case 4th letter of the Greek alphabet. There is nothing "wrong" with the delta on your violin. The presence of a delta is common in cottage industry Markneukirchen violins, but much less so in French violins.

For a discussion of six o'clock, go here:

 

delta.jpg

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Thanks George, pretty helpful discussion about anatomy of the scroll and pegbox.  The best graphic in that discussion is this ... very helpful.

693476071_scrollanatomy.jpg.95dddb5b55638bf0be98f97c014852bc.jpg

But the discussion about orientation was still confusing.  Is it the bee sting that marks the fluting on the scroll ends? In an other comment, someone said the fluting is actually runs along the back of the pagbox and scroll, starting at the chin of the pegbox and running to the top of the scroll.  When I look at a front view of the scroll, that fluting wraps all the way around the head, eventually disappearing under the scroll somewhere approaching the throat.  So I can imagine that being described as the "fluting ends at 6 o'clock," but then wouldn't that apply to all scrolls?

 

Looking at my scroll again, it looks to me like the bee sting ends at about 10 o'clock, and the bottom of the eye (or ear?) in the center of the scroll is at 6 o'clock (but again, that would pretty much be universal wouldn't it?)

 

I'm still confused ... but learning.

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9 hours ago, KB_Smith said:

Why is it that a novice buyer can't trust the authenticity of what is offered at auction?  Aren't those instruments inspected by experts at the auction house before being offered?  And why is it that certificates are not necessarily trustworthy as validation of authenticity? 

I understand that buying from somewhere like Brobst is the best way to ensure you get an authentic instrument.  But that is a commitment to paying full retail price.  Auctions give one the opportunity to get an instrument at a discount to full fair market value.

It seems unless one has your level of experience, and therefore the knowledge and ability to determine the quality of the instrument, we really have no business bidding at an auction, even at Skinner or Tarisio - or risk the same fate as buying from eBay.

Yes.

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Auctions are not necessarily a place to get a bargain.  You could find a bargain, if you know what you're doing and the sun and moon happen to be in alignment, and no one else happens to show up with more knowledge and money.

Auctions are places though, where new record highs are set...

 

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Would you rather buy an instrument you love to play for a fair price or try to buy a violin cheaply at an auction that is just ok?

Buying from a dealer gives you a much better chance of finding a violin that you love to play at a price that you can afford.

If you are going to play it, a good violin is much more than an investment property. 

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